Saturday, July 26, 2008

Homage to BBQ

I can't really say it any better than Chuck, so follow this link (in title above) to his post about our Texas BBQ travels.
Here's the links to the best BBQ joints in Texas:
Louie Mueller Barbeque (Taylor, TX)
Southside Market (Elgin, TX)
Kreuz Market (Lockhart, TX)
Smitty's Market (Lockhart, TX)
I wish I could send a link to smell-o-net... but it doesn't exist. Maybe someday!
I can't recommend these places enough. We've had some wonderful meals at all of them. And brought home some sausage from Southside Market to cook for ourselves (soon!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Missing 2%

Read the linked article on It makes sense. Even I have friends and family with no land line.... Mostly just younger people. In my case, probably less liberal than me... BUT I live in Texas! Heck, if Verizon keeps charging me so much, I might cancel the land line soon. $4 plus tax, if I don't use any long distance! If the polls read the younger land-line-less voters wrong, then it might be very interesting. VERY INTERESTING. Especially since McCain is a couple generations older than Obama. VERY INTERESTING. (OK, so I'm not a Vulcan, but I can pretend to be logical and objective... just don't increase the magnification, because under it all I'm a liberal with a capital L, Democrat and woman.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BFF: Barbara... Thanks for 19 great years so far!

Do you know what BFF means? Best friend forever! She's been my friend since we met in 1989. I advertised in the Plano Star Courier for a roommate to share a house in Plano, because I wanted to get a dog. She wanted a house because she had a dog. Lady, her dog, was a rather macho female dog, part Chow, part Pit-bull, part loyal black lab. Lady was a wonderful dog companion for many years to Barbara.
We found a house together near where I live now. It was a typical rent house with three bedrooms, two baths, a fenced yard. A few surprises were all the rose bushes and fruit trees in the back yard. The leaks in the attic with buckets under them. The other crude repairs made with caulk and/or duct tape around the house. The master bath had 70s wallpaper with silver and brown designs... but I ignored it. Somehow I lucked out and got the biggest bedroom with TWO closets! Room for a sitting area, very neat.
The kitchen was the center of the house. Barb loves to cook and in 1989 she loved to cook mostly vegetarian food. She was slowly becoming a vegetarian, first giving up red meat. Lovely turkey chili. Yummy polish plum dumplings. Red cabbage. Interesting pumpkin pie from scratch. Experiments in the kitchen. That's what I remember the most about cooking with Barbara... it was always fun and an adventure!
In 1990, I located my puppy. Blarney was about eight weeks old, a bundle of spring loaded Jack Russell terrier energy waiting to happen. Barbara's dog, Lady, became his mentor. She watched over him, like a good surrogate mother and taught him all the doggie things like going outside to potty and how to play tug o' war with a rope toy. He loved Barbara and me, but Lady was his first dog friend. She was his "nanny dog".
Later in 1990, we all moved. Blarney and I moved to Richardson to live with a nutsy lady named Anna for six long months. She loved to put him in his kennel at night since I was working late and he liked to bark in the yard. He's a DOG! Anyway we moved as quickly as possible, leaving the deposit behind, to move back to Plano in a two-story townhouse. Barbara had moved with Lady to a neat little duplex over in Carrollton. We got together often along with Barbara's boyfriend David H. David H. worked for a company that was in the telecom business... with her ex-husband Pete. At this point in my life (30), I hadn't yet been married, just was wishing for it and children.
The three of us took trips to East Texas to pick out Christmas trees and visit Grand Saline and the salt palace. We went to Dave's pool and he cooked Chinese for us. It was a good friendship but lopsided since I didn't have a boyfriend for most of the time except when I dated TH, a co-worker of mine who also had worked on the 990 computers. He was a nice guy that was too recently divorced to get involved with. Later I heard that he settled down and remarried. While I had been living at the house of Anna, I answered a personal ad from a guy named DS. DS worked for the same company as I did! It was weird but it's a big company and we didn't cross paths there. Barbara approved of DH so we dated for a long time, eventually living together and contemplating a marriage that didn't happen. He would never commit (you guessed it, previously married and burned by it, he was gun shy). While we lived together, Barbara moved back to Chicago and her family, met and married a great Italian guy named Steve. I was stuck in a rut... dating guys that didn't want to commit to marriage.
I moved to Dallas after completing Leadership Plano. I fled is more like it. Brokeup with DS and Plano simulateously. I lived in a lovely rent house in Lake Highlands with Blarney. We had a chain-link fenced yard full of huge crepe myrtle trees in the back. The house had crank-out windows, wood floors and an antique tiled bathroom... a 3/1/1, it was cozy for me and my dog. I hated living there! Squirels apparently loved the neighborhood. They loved by attic. I thought we had RATS and called the exterminator. After getting to know him too well, he discovered that I had a giant squirrel infestation in the attic. He came over one afternoon and found a "king-sized" squirrel up there. His face was blanched when he told me that, "it was the BIGGEST squirrel" that he had EVER seen. This squirrel infestation evenually drove me to marry the wrong man in order to move back to Plano. Not really but it's a good excuse.
Barbara has stood by me through thick and thin. Friends at a long distance but our hearts never separated. We are sisters without common parents. She was an only child, I was an only child for my 1st 10 years. My sister Beckie is 10.5 years younger than me and has a great deal of room for improvement in the sister business. Barbara is PERFECT (well you know, practically).
When we met, we found at least 6 things in common. We were both the zodiac sign of Cancer, born 20 days apart in 1960. Her father was born on 2/26 exactly 10 years after my father was born on 2/26 in the 20s. Our mother's both smoked like chimneys (my Dad did too). We both loved dogs. We both loved men. We had lots of stuff in common that I can't recall but it was like WOW, are we really sisters that were separated at birth or just cosmicly linked somehow. It's like finding the perfect pair of shoes... they were meant for you. That's me and Barbara. We were meant to be friends and we have been since 1989... 19 years and counting.
Thanks for being my BFF Barbara! I'm looking forward to turning 50 in a couple of years. Hopefully we can find a place that we both want to visit... and celebrate our 50th birthdays together again. It might be Burning Man, it might be Canada or UP Michigan... wherever it is, we'll be there together.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Perfect Birthday! Thanks Honey!

I've know for quite a few years that my husband is a "keeper", but this week he has outdone himself. I've been dined and pampered and treated like a princess. His presents were terrific surprises. Hand-crafted chocolates from the chocolatier in Addison - J. Dorian. A beautiful butterfly necklace from James Avery. The mani-pedi gift certificate that I requested. And the Coach wallet from the factory outlet store in Allen (that I picked up!)

Tonight was the piece d'resistance! We dined at Roy's, which is always a treat. I got permission for a glass of wine from my doctor (meds do interact with alcohol)... and had a lovely flute of Perrier Jouet Champagne from France. It was very very dry champagne but went exquisitely with the salad (pears, chevre and arugula). We started with a complementary appetizer. The menu wished me happy birthday personally and the table was strewn with Happy Birthday confetti. C had the lobster pot stickers and I had the shrimp salad rolls (like a Vietnamese spring roll). For the salad course, he had a Maui Wowie salad with Maui onions. Entrees arrived after a decorous space and my salmon with Gorgonzola was lovely served with some asparagus and new potatoes. YUM! C ordered Mahi mahi encrusted with macadamia nuts. Dessert was orgasmic! Chocolate lava souffle with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. Plus we had two $20 gift cards courtesy of the restaurant to get a good discount on our meal. Plus de meme chose. I don't remember what that means, but it sounds great! Viva le Roy's! Viva le CB! and long live my husband... the dearest in all the land to me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Reflections on white privilege

The linked article on Salon is about a website, called Stuff White People Like. Sounds like a sociology book for non-white people. In NOW-speak, talking about whiteness was always linked with acknowledging our unspoken, unacknowledged state of being (if white) called white privilege.

What's white privilege? Well it's the things you take for granted. No unlawful search and seizure when driving through the wrong suburb. Plano used to be like that. See a beat up old car pulled to the side of the road with a police person talking to the non-white (Hispanic, black) driver... just checking to see why they are OUT OF PLACE, because of course Plano has no poor people. Oh wait, that part over the highway...EAST Plano, it might have a FEW poor people, but we do have a QUOTA don't we? And of course no one is ever homeless, abused or hungry in Plano since it's a paradise. OK, what have I been smoking?

There are ACTUALLY people in Plano who think those thoughts! It was pretty alarming to me when I moved here almost 20 years ago. I told people that I moved to Great White America. Coming from San Antonio, the lack of diversity, the lack of anyone of color (other than pale or tanned white people) was a utter SHOCK to me. I had always lived in a place that was diverse. There was a Mexican restaurant 1 block from my childhood home. Hispanic people lived across the street. My friends in school had been white, Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and Asian. PLANO was a shock to my culture radar.

Even in college, at the elite Trinity University, we were not all white... just mostly. Mostly upper middle to upper class, white kids of privilege. I learned a lot about myself and others while at Trinity University. Some of my prejudices and biases were challenged and others were formed. I learned that there are 18 year-olds that drive Jaguars. And there are also others that take the bus because they don't have a car. Both were students at Trinity. One of them was me... living at home my freshman year and riding the West Ave. & Hildebrand bus routes to Trinity's NW corner by the Ewing Halsell building. The building that became home away from home for a Computer Science major.

I met people of different religions and cultures at Trinity. My first close Jewish friend became my 1st boyfriend, after he hit his roommate over me... on an ROTC field trip to Colorado Springs (Dec 1978). Randy was my 1st boyfriend and we played platonic games of kissing and cuddling, listening to Michael Franks sing Popsicle Toes on the (LP) stereo. He introduced me to bagels with cream cheese, the San Antonio Fiesta Israeli festival at a local synagogue... and must more. He was probably my 2nd best friend that was a guy... Ricardo Vela at Edison was my 1st guy best friend in high school. Randy wrote me over the summer and slowly unfolded his desire for his best friend (guy) in Miami. He was discovering that he was gay and came out to me before anyone else. I wasn't too thrilled to loose my 1st boyfriend, but at least it wasn't to another girl... We stayed friends through Trinity and beyond. Now we don't talk much, but he knows where to find me, and I him... he's a bigwig real estate developer in Portland Oregon now. Still guy, still alive!

Some other differences I learned about at Trinity happened in my Sociology 101 class. Dr. Briseno wanted to shock us. He called the class project a "sociological tour of San Antonio". We were to visit certain neighborhoods and put our new eyes that had been reading sociology to work on these places... and report back. I got paired up with another San Antonio girl, Chris. She had a car and I didn't so it worked out.

We started by driving across Hildebrand street into another world. Olmos Park Texas, is OLD money, understated money, very wealthy people. We observed the smaller homes on the edge (formerly a black neighborhood for the servants of the upper crust residents of Olmos Park). We observed the houses, the yards, the people walking, biking, lounging and driving around the beautiful pristine neighborhood. It looked like crime and pollution/trash had taken a holiday... Because like Plano, Olmos Park didn't look like a city for the most part, it looked like a park.

The other neighborhood we visited was on the near west or east side of San Antonio... I don't recall the exact neighborhood, it was either black majority or Hispanic majority but it was poor. Very Poor! We saw cardboard shanties that people actually lived in. (At that point in my life, I didn't know what homelessness was... can you imagine?) We saw houses with yards full of trash and old cars and other junk. We saw mangy dogs, scruffy cats and neglected children roaming. We locked the doors of our car and got the heck out of Dodge!

Both extremes shocked me. A child of San Antonio, I had grown up in a middle class, probably working class actually, neighborhood. All the kids had enough to eat, OK clothes, mom & dad living at home usually, siblings, one or two cars, one or two bathroom, two or three bedroom simple ranch or bungalow style houses (one story), no pools except on certain more upscale streets, "trash" trees like the mesquites with thorns in our yard. I thought I was normal... average.

I learned at Trinity that my family wasn't average, it was working class / poor. My father never made more than $25,000 while I was in college. I was making that salary when I had been out of Trinity about 3 years. I think I learned about white privilege and also about class-ism and a few other -isms at Trinity. That's the price of a college education for a scholarship kids like me. Moving out of your comfort zone... expanding your horizons... learning about change and changing. Isn't that what college is all about?